Hiring, Recruitment and Retention Issues in 2022

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Resources and Context:  A Challenging Market
Written by Lynn Ingham, Founder Digital Talent Guide & LVIMA Advisor
As the great recruitment challenges posed by Covid have begun to oh-so-slowly recede, recruiters and hiring managers are facing a new normal that is proving difficult to navigate.  Retention is an issue for all companies, not just those who are attempting to bring unwilling remote employees back into the office space.  A vast majority of workers are still reassessing their options and trying to ensure they are well placed in what has truly become a candidate’s market.  Everyone is being recruited, and so most the focus of most hiring managers is not just on finding new talent, they are also struggling with making a compelling case and providing the right cultural and professional environment to retain the strong talent they already have.  

As a seasoned recruiter with a decade of experience under my belt, I find every year brings new opportunities and new challenges.  The past two years have brought more than their share of change, and I am constantly asked for advice on how to navigate these somewhat choppy waters.  I read about and research this market constantly to stay vigilant and current with my own recruitment methods, and I’ve complied a number of resources and articles I have found interesting and helpful in shaping my current outreach and advice.  I’m summarizing key points with links to entire articles below.  Feel free to find your own particular current challenge and do a deeper dive or simply skim the toplines.  Hopefully either path will lead you to helpful information to guide your way.  

The Great Resignation Continues
Nearly 4.3 million people quit their jobs in January, a slight monthly decline but still near the record level set in November, the U.S. Department of Labor said. The elevated level in early 2022 comes off a year in which almost 48 million people quit their jobs, an annual record.

“The Great Resignation is still in full swing, even if quits are moderating somewhat,” Daniel Zhao, a senior economist at career site Glassdoor, said in a tweet.

Job resignations are still up 23% above prepandemic levels, he said.

The takeaway here would be that your recruitment efforts should be two-pronged:  while you look for new workers for your open roles, make sure you are doing all you can do to keep current valued employees happy right where they are.  These times require renewed efforts at listening and responding to employee needs and concerns, as statistics say that nearly one half of all currently employed workers … are thinking about or looking for a new job elsewhere.  Beyond an inflation-driven quest for higher salaries, employees are looking for meaning in their roles.  They are interested in diversity and inclusion.  They are worried about the planet.  They seek environments where they can continue to learn and to grow.  Way too many of them are still “on the move”.  

Full Article:  The Great Resignation shows no sign of slowing down (cnbc.com)

How Historic Was the 2021 Great Resignation?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics began to chart and to report the number of US workers who quit their jobs in December of 2000.  The 2021 number of “quits” is 47.8 million workers, nearly four million workers a month.  See the 20 year history and full chart below: 

Interactive Chart: How Historic Has the Great Resignation Been? (shrm.org)

Renewed Focus on Company Culture and Retention
Recruiters and HR teams are spread very thinly as they navigate the Wild West of remote vs hybrid vs in-office employment in what could also be called The Great Return To Work.  Things that we all took for granted pre-Covid (a safe and healthy work environment, for one, and reliable schooling and childcare for another) simply vanished overnight.  This left all of us wondering, at moments, about the very meaning of our lives as we pondered an existence where so many things were simply out of our control.  After the fear of the unknown began to subside, a changed national psyche (still being dissected and yet to be fully understood) emerged.  What do people now most want?  
One theme is very common.  As a recent Forbes article posits:  “There is a renewed focus on culture and values that puts employee needs front and center. Workers are expecting more in the way of flexibility, training and compensation — or they are happy to jump ship to another job. There’s also still work to be done to unlock certain labor demographics, bring their talents back to the jobs market and then hold onto them.”

Full Article: The Three Biggest Staffing Challenges For 2022 (forbes.com)

The Rise of the Empathic Leader
Inc. recently published a thoughtful piece about the reasons behind The Great Resignation which resonated with me from the hundreds of candidate interviews I’ve conducted over the past couple of years.  It seems there are many years when recruitment progresses at a fairly predictable rate and the challenges that present are understandable and surmountable.  But there are moments in time (9/11 was one of those, Covid a more recent one) when a monumental shakeup forces people to rethink their goals.  As people were forced to go home and to stay there, isolating, for large stretches of time (often while juggling work, children, parents, roommates, or complete isolation), they had plenty of time to think.  And one of the things they thought about was the environments in which they had been (and would be again someday) working.  Not all those work environments measured up.

From the article:  Bolstering the notion that the unrest is far from over, YPulse surveyed 1,450 Millennials in mid-December and found that 29 percent anticipate starting a new job in 2022, with a whopping 81 percent now saying that having a “meaningful career” is somewhat to very important to them. Employees today, across all age groups, want to be treated with dignity and respect. They want to be recognized for their contributions and treated fairly when they fail. They want to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves and to work for people who strive to make their lives better. They are leaving companies in droves right now in search of these leaders. And they will keep leaving until they find them.

Many of you already have empathetic and amazing leaders.  Make sure you give them great internal visibility to existing and returning staff and make sure your recruitment outreach emphasizes your company’s focus on things that matter.

Full article:  What the Latest Data Tells Us About the Great Resignation | Inc.com

What’s Next?
One of my new favorite resources for insight into the experience of employees and employers is Glassdoor, where they have gotten very adept at drawing insights from a rich database of millions of employee reviews, salaries, conversations.  With all that data, they can help the rest of us to better understand how employees are feeling and acting.  A recent report by Daniel Zhao called “Glassdoor Workplace Trends for 2022” highlights emerging trends that they are seeing in a job market and workplace that is undergoing unprecedented change.  

Trend 1: Hiring won’t be easy in 2022
Labor shortages defined the 2021 job market. As customer demand roared back to life, employers faced acute hiring challenges as workers trickled back into the labor force. The increased competition for workers has made it exceptionally difficult to both hire and retain employees. Employers may be ready to write off the tight 2021 labor market as a pandemic-era anomaly, but they shouldn’t. Instead, 2021 should be a template for what to expect in 2022.

Trend 2: Remote work will boost access to top talent, but at a higher price point
While the consequences of a new emphasis on remote work will take time to play out as remote work spreads, two tangible implications should start to show up in 2022: First, more employers (especially in tech) will walk back or reduce location-based pay adjustments as they compete against other employers for top talent. Second, local employers are likely to see rising competition for workers in jobs that can be done remotely, as far-flung employers compete more aggressively for local workers.

Trend 3: Employers will prioritize DE&I action and accountability
A desire for more transparency is shared by employees and job seekers. A September 2020 Glassdoor survey shows that more than 3 in 4 employees and job seekers (76%) report a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers. Companies that don’t invest in DE&I thus risk losing out to competitors—both in terms of failing to communicate commitments on DE&I to employees and job seekers and in developing their ability to meaningfully engage in conversations on solutions. Ultimately, company investments in DE&I efforts are both a social good and a critical part of a company’s workforce management strategy—a particularly salient consideration at a time when finding and retaining talent is so difficult.

Trend 4: Workplace community will expand beyond company walls
The employee-employer bond has intensified over the last decade. Employers increasingly compete for talent by emphasizing employee engagement and workplace experience. The pandemic, however, has made staying connected with increasingly dispersed coworkers and peers more difficult. Many companies previously leaned on the physical office to facilitate this sense of community, offering attractive in-office perks. But what employees miss now is not the office. At a time when the flexibility offered by remote work is valuable for employees, maintaining and enhancing employee connection and community requires special attention from employers.

Full Article:  Glassdoor Workplace Trends for 2022 – Glassdoor